Posted in EVENTS, LIFE

PROUDLY AJEBO by Dike Chukwumerije

You know you have become an ajebo when you find one dead Daddy Longlegs in your bathing water and, after scooping it out, you hesitate, grab a towel, run to the kitchen, break open a fresh bottle of Dettol and empty two caps in the bucket before proceeding. This is a sure sign. When you are handed a plate of iwu ngwo and your spoon hovers over it because there, under the thin strips of cassava, you see a small shiny insect taking a leisurely stroll. But village brother to the left and village cousin to the right are wolfing it down without scrutiny, so you rotate your plate round and start to eat from the side opposite to the strolling arthropod, and when you get to the vicinity of its ambulation you pat your stomach and announce loud enough for all to hear, ‘aho e ju’. I am full. And swiftly cast plate and insect aside. This too is a sure sign.

It’s been that kind of weekend, you know, one in which I studied the bandaged hand of the roadside roasted corn seller, and wondered if the incomparable pleasure of striping the crisped ube of its purple skin so its sour sweetness could blend seamlessly into a mouth full of meticulously masticated corn, was worth the risk of sharing this girl’s unknown ailment. Well, I finally decided it was, yes, but my brother what other sign do I need than the length of time it took, this evaluation of risk and reward, to know that I am now an ajebo? Or the fact that I who buried and mourned my father till the day I said, I will not mourn again, please, o gini? Life must go on. Then stood staring into the freshly dug grave of his sister and thought – Damn! I thought I was immune to this thing. Damn! Because the baby on the flight back, two rows in front, and looking back made me want to start making funny faces, with his round eyes like tear drops, making me wonder why there is so much hate in the world.

Or the airport taxi that waylaid me right out of the doors of Arrivals trying to sell me a N6000 ride back to town. Is it not N5000 again? Ok. Let us not argue – I told him – Let me see if someone will agree to take for N5000. And he buckled. Walking past me, he buckled and said – Oya come, Oga, rather than lose the entire goat is it not better to just lose its tail? Ever attentive for fresh metaphors, I said – What? And he said, Is it not true? To God who made me, Oga, I have been here for 3 days waiting my turn. We are over 700 taxies here. Is it not better I take the N5000 and go than keep waiting in this stinking place? And he lamented the lack of jobs, his desire for a new one, the distance to his home in Masaka. And I caught a fleeting look of his eyes in the rearview mirror, dull and crinkled with worry. Not my business. But the ajebo in me was stricken. What can we do in the face of overwhelming odds? I got to my destination and paid him his N6000.

Would he have come back if I didn’t? I don’t know. Because he drove away with my phone lying where it had slipped out as I struggled to pull out that extra N1000. You know how it is, patting your pockets at your doorstep, realizing the car speeding off is carrying your contact list, pictures of your wife and children, irreplaceable videos of moments in time you can never recover. Like the movies, I thought – I’ll cut him off! So, I ran down a side-street, sprinting like the day I lost the 400m final in JSS. That day too I ran my heart out. Like that day, I was seconds from the top of the road when he went roaring past, unnoticing of my flailing arms. So, I jumped into a nearby taxi and gasped, ‘Follow that car!’ But this is not a Hollywood movie. No. My very Nigerian taxi driver refused to start his car until I told him what exactly was pursuing me. That meant catching my breath first while all the time watching my phone disappearing down the road. No matter. I went back home and called the phone from my wife’s own. He answered. In that time, he had gotten to Lugbe already. But turned immediately and came back, holding out the phone, apologizing profusely, swearing he had no idea he had a phone he could have sold for thousands lying in his backseat. And I smiled at him and thought to myself – Hmm. This one too na ajebo…

‪#‎tolerance‬ ‪#‎originality‬ ‪#‎nsw7‬ ‪#‎madeinnigeria‬
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If you like things like this, then keep a date with me on Friday 30 Sep 7pm, or Sat 01 Oct 6pm, or Sun 02 Oct 6pm where I will be presenting ‘MADE IN NIGERIA’ a performance poetry production that explores key aspects of our 102 years history as Nigerians, and the distinct characteristics we have evolved in that time. It’s the 7th Edition of the Night of the Spoken Word (NSW7) Poetry Show, and buying tickets online qualifies you for a raffle draw. No lie. You could win a weekend for 2 at the Transcorp Hilton. For updates follow me on twitter and Instagram @nswpoetry, and like our facebook page – dikechukwumerijensw. Live Life Your Way.

 

Cover Image: http://naij.com

 

This is also part of our #LoveNaijaSeries. Read the first, ‘Singing the Song of Wrong’ Here

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Posted in CALLS FOR SUBMISSION, FICTION, POETRY

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: DANA FLIGHT 9J-992 TO LAGOS

The Naija Stories community is calling on its members and the general public to contibute to an anthology to commemorate the death, Sunday 3rd of June, of 153 passengers and crew of Dana Airlines Flight 9J-992 from Abuja to Lagos and about 10 residents of the houses the plane crashed into.

We want to see the writers among us take this tragedy and turn it into something that we can all connect with. Stories and Poetry have proved to be healing outlets as communities attempt to make sense of trauma. In whatever form we choose to write, we can deal with our emotions, report on how we can do better next time or even give life back to the dead by telling their stories.

We are calling for an mixed anthology that will commemorate Dana Airlines Flight 9J-992 from Abuja to Lagos, Sunday June 3, 2012. Send in Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry from now till the end of June to admin@naijastories.com

You can also register and post your entries directly to the site. Selected Stories will be published in an anthology by the end of July 2012. While we will consider selling the anthology and donating the proceeds to Charity, for now we envision putting it up on this site and others for free downloads.

Our hope is that story will help us as a country to deal with this. This will not be a collection of gruesome reports or stories but a celebration of life. Life is Precious. Stories are Forever.

Let us not forget.

Crew boards the plane to prepare for the flight.

An expectant Meimuna Anyene and her kids. All died in the crash including her husband, mother-in-law and 2 cousins.

One of the air hostesses

The scene of the crash at Iju.

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, FICTION, TALES

Colourful Threads in the Nigerian Literary Fabric: A Review of Naija Stories by Unoma Azuah

Naija Stories makes a rewarding read because a sizable number of the stories in the anthology beam beyond the imperfections of the weaker stories. This collection adds a unique design to the tapestry that makes up the layout of the Nigerian literary fabric. The stories renew our plush tradition of yarning and knitting of anecdotes. The anthology is divided into four sections with the subtitles: Tears, Kisses, Heroes, and Villains. These subtitles pretty much represent the contents of the sections.
Stories that beam with the brilliance of precision, include, “Blame it on a Yellow Dress,” “Showdown at Rowe Park,” and “One Sunday Morning in Atlanta,” among others. These stories glitter with vigour. “Blame it on the Yellow Dress,” explores incest. It reveals how a father sexually abuses his young daughter. The writer makes the reader empathize with the main character, and effectively rouses our anger and succeeds at evoking our sense of pathos. “Showdown at Rowe Park,” chronicles the conflicts of secondary school students. It is quite a simple story, rich with humour with a well-developed suspense. Though the language is near banal, the writer is able to capture the mood and setting in a way that effectively enhances the theme of the story. He is further able to make such a familiar story, especially to Nigerians that can identify with life in secondary school, vivid and definitive.
“One Sunday Morning in Atlanta,” is another engaging story in the collection. Though some actions in the story are called to question when it comes to verisimilitude. For instance, the strong influence the protagonist’s mother has on him, seems rather far-fetched and the childishaltercationbetween the protagonist and his sister in the church makes one wonder if they are adults or teenagers. Nevertheless, the gradual build-up of the story makes it more convincing. The paradox in the fact that the protagonist, while in a club, dancing and socializing, could not get the attention of a girl he wants, but was able to get her into his house through the guise of evangelism adds a plus to the account because it makes the story emblematically charged. Additionally, the writer’s ability to lay bare the contrasts of Nigerian idiosyncrasy and American exclusive traits heightens his effectual use of wit.
The very first story in the collection, however, sends discouraging signals to the reader. The premise of “A Glimpse in the Mirror,” falls flat because its theme of death is redundant and melodramatic. Qualifying it within the context of a meal or a broth makes it taste like an over-salted soup. The central character, a coffin maker, loses all the father figures in his life and ends up losing his life as well. The sardonicism in the fact that one of his customers wants a plane-coffin for his late mother who had always wanted to enter a plane, but never did, almost elevates the story. But this boost fizzles out because that is all we see of this secondary character in the story. There is no employment of variety in the story’s mode of delivery—no humour, no suspense and no re-channeled digression. Stories with the three E’s are always a pleasure to encounter: entertainment, education and expansion of one’s scope of life. As Stephen Minot puts it, “When you turn from literary non-fiction to fiction you cut the tether with the truth.”
My hope for the three E’s dimmed as I read from the first section towards the last section. Some of the contributors to the anthology are amateur writers who have little or no idea of what a short story should be. Hence, brevity among other flaws becomes a challenge. For instance, the story, “Can I Please Kill You,” is a mere didactic story about abortion. The story does not achieve much except attempt to sell a moral. The emphasis is on the fact that the protagonist decides not to go through with an abortion, while a nurse who is symbolic of ethical precursor praises the character for her wise decision. There is nothing crisp in the story’s structure, theme or style. Another story that does not succeed at its rendition is “Seeing off Kisses.” It drifts from one unfocused point to another. The inconsistency in characterization does not help.
Though some of the resolutions of the stories are loose, they nonetheless,bear conclusions that fall within the standards of well tied ends. That is, some wind-up with optimistic outlook to life, while others culminate quite unconventionally, which in itself is positive because most unconventional or disturbing resolutions force us to re-examine some of the stubborn beliefs or expectations we hold. Naija stories has done a successful work of showcasing new and emerging voices in Nigerian literature.

Unoma Azuah is a prolific Nigerian Benue born writer of many dimensions. She lives in Jackson, TN, USA.

Of Tears and Kisses, Heroes and Villains can be bought online at http://www.naijastories.com/amazon-store/.

If you live in Nigeria and want the book delivered in PDF to your inbox, please contact admin@naijastories.com for payment details (via Zenith Bank and GTBank)

Posted in NAIJA POETRY, POETRY

LULLABY OF WAR (A Poem) by Gooseberry

(From Naija Stories - WAR and DESTRUCTION)

Misunderstandings of unlike minds
Hits climax
And violence awakens

The sun gets jealous
Of the beauty of the blazing fire
Rising to the sky
Like a painting in motion
Consuming the earth like a hungry scavenger
And roasting creatures like helpless barbecue
Of what song do we sing?

Sounds of terror
Blasts through the ears like thunder
Puncturing the eardrums and shaking the earth
Causing gravity to perform in command
Screams piercing and cries reverberating
Letting fear roam the earth in stealth.
Of what song do we sing?

Women and children
Adorned in tattered rags and coated in dust
Wander in terror with sunken eyes and protruding abdomen
Terrified as scattered limbs
Cause them to limp
Of what song do we sing?

Men
Oh men!!
Our sweet sweet men
Perish for no just cause
Allowing guns to spit dangerous metals enclosed with heat
Who will be our companion if you go?
Of what song do we sing?

We sing the song of savage
The song that embraces gory
Where we eat human flesh and drink blood
But never get satisfied

If I could sing a song
I’ll sing this violent baby a lullaby
And send him to sleep
While we leave
And let the world live

Then slowly
He’ll flicker his lids
Tilt his head backwards
And drift away
To a land called peace.

©Gooseberry 2012

Gooseberry is a creative writer and one of the top poets of http://naijashortstories.com . Naija Stories is a great literary network boasting most of Nigeria’s hottest young talents at the moment. It is run by Myne Whitman and a team of great administrators.

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, FUNNY, LIFE

Look at ME please: The challenge of self-promotion in a super-sized world. by YEJIDE KILANKO

I’m sure most of you heard the news in 2011 that the world’s population has surpassed 7,000,000,000 people. What this means, is that there are a lot of us walking around on planet earth. Not only are we competing for the necessities of life, we’re competing for the opportunity to display our talents to the largest audience.

For us creative folks, it’s about getting attention for our work. You and I know that no matter how much we admire our own genius ( really, who else would have had the wit to put those two unique words next to each other?) we need the validation that comes from positive feedback and the eventual sale of our works. In a world of shrinking resources, we not only have to put our best foot (work) forward, we have to toss aside that old-fashioned notion of not tooting your own horn and hire a marching band complete with a book wearing mascot.

I’ll be completely open with you, after all there’s nothing as intimate as an article posted on a public internet site, that this has been a challenge for me. One of the life lessons my dear mother taught came from a Yoruba proverb, “when your yam is sprouting, you cover it with your hand.” For those wondering why this is necessary, it’s to prevent those lurking, envious so-and-sos’ from standing in the way of your progress. The other thing is that there’re so many mouths and a limited number of yams.

The way things go in this present world is that you really ‘need’ to send out a growth announcement about the yam.

“Dear friends and frenemies, it’s my pleasure to announce that my recently planted African yam (aka Dioscorea rotundata) pierced through nutrient-rich loamy soil at 21:00 hours yesterday. In the absence of a locust infestation, yam and planter are doing just fine.”

Then it’s very important to tweet daily about leaf formation, green pesticide use, water conservation methods and any unique characteristics of your yam vine. Moreover, when that sweet piece of earthy goodness makes its entrance, pictures of you eating the boiled or roasted yam with spicy palm oil must grace your Facebook page. Please, do remember to close your mouth as you chew. Even when you delete the pictures, you never know where they’re going to turn up.

As I ponder about different (think covert) ways of marketing my work, I’ve thought of having colourful t-shirts made for my children with the book cover and website address printed on it. That way, I could get their friends to fall in love with the book during recess. These angelic cherubs in turn, would tell their parents about it and the parents would tell a friend and so on and so forth. Yours truly, the mastermind behind this all, would then smile all the way to the piggy bank.

Before you start judging me, please remember that I’m ‘really’ doing this for the children. A trip back to the magical land of Disneyworld which is at the top of their vacation list is not cheap. And since they are all going to be nuclear physicists or neurosurgeons with perfect teeth, neither are braces or a university education. And the way I look at it, it’s never too early to start thinking of a retirement plan. Especially since their dear mama is eyeing a timeshare in the Bahamas. Okay, this is the part where I pinch myself back into reality.

The take-away nugget at the end of my long speech, is that we wielders of the pen or the keyboard, not only have to keep doing what we do; we have to become savvy about marketing our selves. You and your work are the products. This would include public speaking, use of social media, community engagement and platform development. To accept that if we truly believe in our message, we need to stand tall and share it. Even at the risk of it all coming out as that obnoxious sound of the vuvuzela.

Yejide Kilanko © 2012

ABOUT THE WRITER:
Yejide Kilanko is a humorist and writer of great depth. She was born in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1975. A Social Worker in children’s mental health, she holds degrees from the University of Ibadan, the University of Victoria, the University of Windsor and has worked as a Child Protection Worker in Canada. She currently lives in Chatham, Ontario with her husband and children. Find out more about her debut novel on https://www.facebook.com/YejideKilanko

Posted in POETRY

THE NAIJA STORIES RENGA NA HAKAI

(This is largely based on contributions of poems from several authors…It is the way most poems were written back then…
Some Psalms of the Bible find expression from here….Happy Reading from Us all Poets and Muses at Naija Stories…)

Of the sweetness of your words I fear
Finding in them a gracious tear
Fantasy at the side
Efforts failing, reality too strong to hide (@sueddie)

Sweetness that creeps silently forth
Enveloping my fears and secret anguish
Here, I lay it before all to blot
This pain too much for me to publish. (@shaifamily)

HA! Shai, what’s too hard to publish
That I would read with relish
Our great poet…
You have started this duet (@sueddie)

If only it would reawaken other poets
To take up this call and make the others sweat
I saw a renaissance springing forth
But, is that just my imagination crowding me out? (@shaifamily)

Imagination needs a wake up call indeed;
Go beyond mere words, live in deed
And then when you’ve lived what you preach,
See how much silence can widen your reach (@seun-odukoya)

For silence they say is golden.
With written words our world is unfolding,
Taking us far beyond our horizons..
Extra minds are welcome in this liaison.. (@sibbylwhyte)

Now, awaken the souls of the silent poets
To join their quota in this sweet duet
For every word that’s scribbled and spelt
Shall see the progress of this forum belt (@gooseberry)

My word! What words I see scribbled here
Flowing free and freshly scrawled
Look, see what tumbles out
When the poets gather round like scouts (@shaifamily)

@Shai my guy! The last line?
Oh! My brother, that’s fine
In Poets and Duets, you’re with friends
No critics (@kaycee dem dem) here to fry your bodily ends (@Sueddie)

Far in the silent distance I hear a call
From a voice so encompassing that I’m drawn along
‘How helpest thou, I, sweet comrades?’
‘What insignificant help can little me give?’ (@babyada)

Freely, we pour our musings here
Devoid of the critics spear
Rambling never felt this better and clear
Oh! I love this, give me more dear (@gooseberry)

Then said I.. You have it Goose.
For we shall be their muse.
We fear not the critic’s spear.
Only their taints of the poetic air. (@sibbylwhyte)

And so enter the free spirit
Never one to be silent
Here ego and pride at bay
Here let the muses reign (@kaycee)

Let said muse walk in the rain
Because he/she does not understand pain
The kind of pain that comes from hope denied
And I hope this; false pride’s decried. (@seun-odukoya)

Sweet! I love the way we are flowing the rhyme
Fair poets and muses: No pretence at all
That to this verse would certainly be a crime.
Okay, fellow poets, let’s continue to play ball! (@sueddie)

Crime you say?
I don’t know if that game I want to play
My balls I will fervently preserve
Unless it is another kind of ball you serve…. (@shaifamily)

Preserved or served; they one day will be taken
By the pain of words unspoken
Or by the anger evoked by words counted tokens
But kill and shrink all hope in the dozens (@seun-odukoya)

At the mention of Pain I will scamper
For that is a notion I will not temper
Maybe we should talk more about balls
That way we won’t escape the pitfalls…. (@shai-family)

Oh great poet; ‘ware thee this topic of balls
Before you make the council name thee ‘fairy’
And do you mean ‘balls’ or guts?
Cause you talk about one often; the other rarely… (@seun-odukoya)

Pain and pitfalls
Words I do not like
Give me balls anytime
A man is at best with his (@kaycee)

Caught between aphrodite’s lips,
balls he surrenders, he wouldn’t miss.
When pain and pleasure entwine,
Tis the same choice you would make next time. (@sibbylwhyte)

Hee hee hee! Hate to be rude
But we have to bring this interlude
Sibbyl spoke to whoever next would ‘cum’
Wow! Has anyone gotten that warm?!! (@sueddie)

I heard pain brings much pleasure
Burst balls though I don’t think will measure
Why do we talk about balls?
When there is much more cooking in the poetic halls…. (@shaifamily)

From the halls then, Maestros, Bring them all out!
Poets from the North to South (NS), turn this to some versified bout
We have the storms and sensations…
Please, Maestros, lets all show styles of variations! (@sueddie)